Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Practicing Courage No Matter What

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. 

- Maya Angelou

What matters at the end of the day is that no matter what, we do the thing.

This is what courage is all about- it's about doing the thing we want/need/crave/desire/_____(you fill in the blank) no matter what state we are in. Even if it means taking the next small step, we do the thing. Courage is built in the small acts strung together, day in and day out.

I know for a fact that if I made how I feel a condition for practicing courage and doing the next thing I know I need to do in my heart, then I wouldn't get anything done.

Last winter I did an intensive workshop over a few month period that explored Brene Brown's work, ideas and developed practices of "Daring Greatly" and there was a whole section devoted to really honing in on the values that matter most. Creating a list of your top values is definitely an activity I suggest doing. What it does is it gets you super clear on how you want to kick butt in this world each day. This is a very powerful guiding force. Our values are the framework that give purpose and meaning to our actions, goals and pursuits.

After doing the workshop, what emerged for me as my top three values was "Love, Courage and Integrity." I know that every day, those are the values I practice. When I was developing my core values list, I knew right away that Courage was gonna be there no matter what. Courage is central to my life philosophy and beliefs and is undeniably married to our ability to grow. It takes courage to love with our whole heart, even when there are no guarantees. And it takes courage to practice integrity and walk the talk. I decided that courage is absolutely essential to my living a wholehearted life and if its the doorway to all other virtues, I would commit to it as a daily practice.

No matter what.

The photo above was taken right before I went skydiving last year. Was I scared? Fuck yeah.
The bottom line was that although fear was present, it wasn't the guiding force. The guiding force was my commitment to courage no matter what. That's what get's me out of bed in the morning.

I've traveled quite a few times in the past few years and I still get nervous before each trip. Every single damn time. The key is really to accept whatever emotion or state we are in when we make a decision, but decide and do the thing anyway. Valuing courage demands that we keep the momentum through consistent practice.

It doesn't need to be a big thing. Courage can often be found in the intricate web of our daily lives in the small acts and leaps of faith we take. There have been many days where I've woken up and although I knew mentally that engaging with the day is how I grow, generate happiness and find the opportunities, I didn't feel like doing anything. This is where we need to act before we are ready. It may feel counter-intuitive but the truth is that making changes requires engagement and action, even if it's the smallest of steps we take. Every time I took "the step" it created momentum. I've never had regrets.

This is why courage is a practice. It asks that we do the thing, practice the small disciplines, take the risks and move.

Take the step. You know what step is next and what you need to do. Trust yourself and do the thing. Then watch your world unfold.

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Choice I'll Never Regret

The choice I'll never regret is this:
Investing in myself. Investing in myself comes from my deep commitment to personal growth.

Growing up, I felt it was selfish to take time for myself. But as I got older and got to know people who are really moving forward in their lives and making a difference, I realized that it's the only way I will grow, get clear and be truly able to contribute beyond myself.

We all need personal growth to be happy, alive and fulfilled in our lives.

I've been intentional about what I've committed to and followed my heart. Every place I've traveled to has caused me to grow massively. Travel really is an education of it's own. From trips to Israel and England in 2013, to San Diego in 2014 and North Carolina and Miami in 2015, each trip has given me more. Made me more.

Most of us enroll in formal education. If you are and loving your program, congratulations! You're bang on. But if University if not for you, there are so many other certification programs that can change your life. Maybe they won't be your final career choice, but if you're feeling the desire to do a yoga certification or coaching course, do it. It might be the very stepping stone you need to get more clear. Is there a leader or business owner you look up to who offers a course? Take it! Do your research, get recommendations from people you trust and invest your money wisely, but invest.

For the past four years, reading has also had a huge impact on my personal growth and level of focus. Reading books or blogs by people who have experienced life and gained knowledge is a great way to open our eyes to more perspective and options. Finding role models who inspire us and absorbing the content they offer is incredibly inspiring.

There is also something to be said for investing beyond our basic responsibilities when it comes to our work. At the moment I am mentoring a group of young girls in life skills and self-esteem. Even though it is a volunteer opportunity, it has added more wholeness to my life. Volunteering is not about the money, but we grow, meet people, find more purpose in our lives and may become more clear on next steps or receive an opportunity to make money through volunteering. So as I said, never a waste.

If it's something that grows you into a better person, it's worth your time.

Enrolling in therapy or coaching is also always worth it. We all need healing and support at different points in our lives. There are many people, groups and programs out there designed to provide the tools and resources for healing and clarity. When it comes to getting help, reaching out may not be easy, but its always worth it. The truth is that if we don't do our own work, we can't truly be there for others. We need to start with ourselves.

If it's something that aligns with your passion, if it's something you feel you need, do it. Take time to build yourself. You wont regret it. I promise.

Friday, 4 December 2015

The Power of Gratitude: Changing Lives Err' Day

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/b7/8b/f3/b78bf32467e04550450167e265fd8cb9.jpgAs I sit here at my local Tim Hortons sipping on my coffee, I literally revel in gratitude. The focusing on and practicing of gratitude has literally changed my life, shifted negative moods and created ripples of expanding positive energy to affect my actions, decisions and relationships.

The main point to grasp about this practice is the way it works and how powerful it can be. We know that what we focus on grows. When we focus on positive thoughts, when we think about what we love, what feels good and what we're excited about, it grows. It builds momentum from the point we've decided to focus on. It expands. We feel fulfilled and inspired.  

And really, we didn't necessary need to change the circumstances of our lives to get here.

Our culture often emphases the idea that somehow, we are not enough, we don't have enough or are not doing enough. Without critical awareness, we can easily get caught up in the idea that we need to lose weight or be in a relationship to be enough. That we need to have more stuff or accomplish more. This mindset is a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself as we run away from our worthiness and this present moment.  

Our happiness demands that we slow down and engage in practices, such as gratitude, that bring us to who we are now, in this present moment and how enough we are right now.

Gratitude is a practice that causes us to stop running and chasing and start feeling the fullness of our lives and celebrating what we do have. From this place, we stop desperately chasing "something more" and we are able to live our lives and pursue our goals from a more grounded, peaceful space.

In order to reap the benefits of practicing gratitude, we need to do it.
Err' single day.
"Doing" gratitude means writing down what we are grateful for (on paper, in a journal or on your phone) and speaking it by telling the people in our lives how much we appreciate them and why. It means looking at your bank account and saying thank you. Thank you for providing me the means to continue living my life and doing what I want. It means noticing how lucky we are to be living in a safe country, to be healthy and alive and able to engage in the opportunities we come across.

The more specific you can be, the better.
Its not about having big things to be grateful for either, it's actually more about noticing the small things that happen so often yet we are so caught up in needing the big things that we miss the small things.

The small things add up to the big things. Notice them. 
You will feel more present.

Practicing gratitude has shifted my perspective. So many times. Literally shifted how I feel within hours or even minutes.
We know life is all about perspective.
Why do some people "seem" to have it all but yet are still unhappy? Because it's not about how much we have or do, it's about appreciating everything we have and do. It's the mindset we have about our lives.

Gratitude is a skill, coping tool and mindset. It requires consistent effort and work, but its work that is 100% worth it. Every time.
It has the power to creates waves in our perspective, motivation, and ability to make a positive difference in this world. When we feel that we have and are enough, when we begin expanding our presence through gratitude, we have more to give and a greater desire to give. 

So next time you feel good from being around a certain person, thank them. Next time you feel inspired, be grateful for it. Next time you feel happy from drinking a coffee, being in the sun, reading a book, going to an event or simply waking up in the morning, practicing gratitude. Write gratitude. Say gratitude. Doing this fills our inner reservoir so that when we do experience a tough time, we not only have the ability to shift it, but the previous experience to remind us of what is possible.

I'm grateful for YOU. Your support on my journey of developing this blog has been a blessing. Thank you.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Why I Live on the Edge

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/d5/b4/95/d5b4955510e9b7b2f9e5919f556206e6.jpgIn the midst of planning my next trip this March, which involves researching destinations, talking to people and daydreaming, I had an inkling to write a post like this. So here goes.

I've stayed in hostels and started conversations with total strangers.
I've quit jobs that didn't make me happy, skydived and taken spontaneous trips out of my country.
Multiple times a year. 
I've traveled alone and found others to travel with along my journey.
I chose to leave the traditional University education because my heart wasn't in it and I prefer a more rugged, hands-on education from the university of life right now.

My 20's are being dedicated to exploration, adventure, self-discovery and making a positive difference in this world.

I climbed a 2,434 foot mountain in British Columbia a few months ago on my own, making it down just as the sun set.

I've loved with my whole heart, even though there were no guarantees. Ever.
The truth is that I choose to live a life of mindful risk because it makes me feel alive. The risks I take are intentional because I believe that if we don't take the risks associated with becoming our strongest selves, we don't grow.

Because personal growth is such a strong value I hold, I know that in order to grow, we must move past fear, follow our intuition and act in favor of the impulses that urge us to get out of our comfort zone. Being uncomfortable is a risk, but what is more dangerous I believe is protecting ourselves from ever feeling our emotions and experiencing all of the experiences life urges us to take part in.

I'd rather feel and experience than not experience at all. I'd rather grow and push the limits of what I think is possible to discover more. I'd rather do what absolutely scares me, because I know that it will also make me feel absolutely alive.

Now before I continue, I want to make a clear distinction. When I say "mindful risk", I am referring to the risks that cause us to grow into our strongest, best selves. This doesn't mean recklessly doing drugs, disrespecting our bodies, sleeping around or doing things without thinking at all. I am talking about the positive risks we are afraid of taking because we want to avoid discomfort. These risks are spoken through the voice of our intuition that wants us to grow, thrive, live and love with our whole hearts.

A life without risk is a dangerous life because we are left wondering, "what if?"
What if I took that opportunity?
What if I went on that trip?
What if I let myself love him/her?

Without risk, we simply don't grow.
While we know that we risk pain by risking joy, the truth is that its worth it. It's the point of life.

I'd rather have both than neither. It's like the concept of yin and yang. "Yin Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole." So in essence, the risk to love and feel the ups comes with the downs. "Over thousands of years quite a bit has been sorted and grouped under various Yin Yang classification systems."

 I recently experienced a life-changing relationship that caused me to grow immensely, but didn't work out in the long term. And you know what? It fucking sucks to feel the pain, but I wouldn't take any of the moments back because I leaned into them fully. They were amazing. And they made me realize that these experiences is what life is about. Breakups suck, but I still wouldn't take anything back. In fact, I am grateful for all of it.

So why do I choose to live on the edge? Because it makes me grow and feel alive. I've become a more loving, compassionate and understanding human being because of the risks I've taken. All of them. I can empathize more with others and their journeys because of mine. This is no "safe" path, but it is full and beautiful and its where we become more loving and find people who we can share our love with.

Now your turn. What is your "edge"? What makes you grow? What risks do you take?
Have some fun with this. Risk looks different for everyone so avoid comparison and focus on what it means for you.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

This is Why you Need to Travel as Much as you Possibly Can

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a6/ae/59/a6ae590ee603b28eee0645f2c8745379.jpgI remember when I was on Vancouver Island, BC, a few weeks ago and went on a day hike to a giant tree. There were three of us going on the hike, including myself. We proceeded to climb the tree, which at different levels had these big nets attached to it which were also attached to the trees surrounding it. Getting up to the first level was scary. There were three levels and each net got smaller and smaller as you would climb higher. Despite my fear, I pushed past the thoughts and focused on what I was doing in the moment, until I found myself in the top net.

I looked out at treetops and the Pacific Ocean as I sat in that tiny-ass hammock. It was breathtaking. Time slowed down and I realized that this was the best way I can describe how magical traveling can be.

The magic about travel is that is puts us in the position to see the world from a different perspective.  Or maybe just to have more perspective when we didn't have much before. Traveling opens our eyes to beauty, makes us more grateful for the world we live in and allows us to step back from our everyday lives to realize that the things we often stress about are so unimportant compared to the eye-opening experiences, connections and personal growth we create when we get out of our comfort zone.

Traveling is the best education
When we travel, what we learn is for life because we could not be more present to an experience than when we are physically in it. We learn through doing and following our instinct. We learn about people. We learn about survival, budgeting and asking for what we need. We learn about ourselves.

You meet the best people
We can meet amazing people wherever we are, but when I've traveled I've really met some of the most inspiring individuals. One reason is that because when I'm traveling, I'm more open. But also, because meeting other travelers means you meet others who value personal growth and adventure. The people I've met while traveling in the past few years are still in my life and very close to my heart.

Mountains, Rivers, Forests and Beaches
I must say that the people we meet along our travels are what bring meaning and purpose to the adventure. I've traveled on my own, but what makes the trip really real and worthwhile is meeting other adventurers and love-filled souls along the way and being able to share your experiences with these people. However, it is still important to do some research and choose the best adventures. I like planning a bit and asking around. When I go to a place, I want to know what will take my breath away. For example, when I go to Iceland, I definitely want to see the Northern Lights. These wonders exist to be explored.

Traveling sends you into the unknown
The unknown is where the magic happens. It's where we discover what we previously didn't even know to exist about the world, people and ourselves. The reason for this is simply because we are forced to be open. Away from the certainty of our jobs, routines or familiar relationships, we are pushed to look around us and within us with fresh eyes and perhaps see things for the first time. We are reminded of who we truly are, our essence that defines our aliveness itself. And I'm starting to believe that this has a lot to do with being thrown into the unknown, facing our fear and being open.

So I urge you to travel. I promise you, it will change your life.

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Heart Wide Open: The Journey of Feeling Real

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/4d/c9/00/4dc9004fa0a21fa9617e19d8b2eaf8ae.jpgWe can't selectively numb emotions. Either we choose to embrace the whole experience, with all the emotions involved, or we shut down. We numb. And there are many ways we do this- sex, drugs, alcohol, food, over-busying, planning.

I've chosen to be open.

Sometimes it sucks because when we don't numb our emotion,  being open means we take the ups with the downs. It doesn't mean we don't have the power and choice to walk away, say "no" and set boundaries, but it does mean we engage with our truth.

It's important that we walk into the "arena" with tools- faith, good friends who will love us unconditionally, practices that bring us home- but more importantly, we walk in with courage. Deciding to be "all in" takes immense courage. And I can tell you that from my own experience.

There is no greater practice of courage than deciding to engage fully and be present to your truth.

The courage we practice to engage feels vulnerable, but it is also the birthplace of power, creativity, love, connection and belonging. Why? Because when we risk being real, when we can fully embrace where we're at, we also open up to these other parts that bring purpose, meaning and fulfillment to our lives.

Practicing courage may mean we face rejection, failure and hurt, but it's worth it. There will always be the risk, but to live a wholesome and fulfilling life for that risk is well worth it.

In the process of writing this article, I reflect back to a relationship I had in the past that didn't work out and needed to end. It hurt. It was shitty. But you know what? I don't regret one bit of it because I connected to another soul, learned more about myself (what I want and don't want), grew as a human and then walked away with peace in my heart. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Most of us don't have one perfect relationship for life. We live our lives and experience relationships so we can learn more, decide what we want more of, become more honest and loving beings and grow in the process.

Where we have a choice is in whether we grow from the experience or not. Whether we are willing to see the lessons that an experience is there to teach us and then apply these lessons to our lives and the choices we make.

This is what being engaged in the journey (while we carry the tools and supports that bring us home) is all about. It's about paying attention to how an experience makes us feel and then deciding if its aligned with our path or not. Then we get to choose what we do with this information. A question we might ask ourselves in this process is, "Is this _______ (job, relationship, habit..) making me a stronger version of myself?" Then we can choose to stay or walk away.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Climbing Lone Cone Mountain: Realizations 2,434 feet Above Ground

On my final days in British Columbia, about three weeks ago, I spent two nights on Vancouver Island. One in Tofino, a small coastal surf town and the second on Meares Island, where the 2,434 foot mountain called Lone Cone stands. I got there by water taxi in the early afternoon and dropped my bags at the only human settlement on the island, a small campground and hostel run by native people. I was on my own and I had to get started ASAP. The sun would be setting before 7pm. The hike is meant to take about 2 hours up the mountain and this was my first so I knew I had to hustle.

It would be me and the mountain. Literally.

I was the last one to go up.

The climb challenged me in so many ways, physically, mentally and spiritually. I wanted to give up. I cried. I got back up. But the key was that I faced myself, found greater faith and grew as a result. It was a process and I want to share some it with you.

The first third of the climb was quite easy. A good workout. And then I questioned my ability. The phrase "You can't do this Julie" came to my mind. And at first, I listened to it. I stopped hiking and broke down in tears. The shitty voices of people who discredited my dreams because of their own limiting beliefs came. The stigma and judgement around mental health and sensitivity came flooding. And then I realized I had a choice. I could let those voices define me or I could choose to see that I am more than someone's shitty opinion. I am more than judgement that is said by people who don't have experience around that which they are judging.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,....who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

And so I chose to continue climbing. My legs hurt, but something in me knew I needed to do this. And if I wanted to get to the top, I didn't have much time to linger. I had a transformation to go through and it wasn't ending halfway up the mountain.

I ran into the last two people to go up who were now coming down. They said I'd be at the top in about 30 minutes. Phew! It was good to have some reassurance. I was almost there and super sweaty.

When I was about 10 minutes away from the top I wanted to give up. Again, a silly thought that I could choose to believe or not. From my breakdown further down the mountain, I was starting to realize that I was more than those thoughts. I had continued to climb and I was choosing to believe in myself and listen to the voices of those who have supported and believed in me.

And so I continued to the top. What a feeling of accomplishment. I was following pink tape tied to trees and finally the trees cleared to make way to a cliff that literally overlooked a straight drop down 2, 434 feet. It was scary, but here I was doing something pretty crazy and I was proud of myself. I reflected on how much I've grown in the past few years and how my journey of personal growth has allowed me to open up to so much. I'm so grateful. Going on adventures like these has challenged me beyond who I thought I was to become who I really am.

Being open to life experiences is the best advice I would give. 
We need real, raw, heart-filled life experience to grow and become more of who we are.

I remember hiking down the mountain, smiling to myself.
"We are more than our mind-created doubt and the voices of people's shitty opinions."

Yes, I had those thoughts. Yes, I remembered some shitty opinions. But they weren't about me. They were about them. Because I kept climbing to the top anyway. And what counts at the end of the day is our willingness to do the things that scare us, despite the doubt. We become stronger because we do and in the process realize that the only person who gets to decide what you can or can't do is you.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

14 Comforting Mantras to Remember When S*#T Hits the Fan

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/30/be/58/30be581df874d6fc84b416e3095b5d9d.jpgThe other day, I was talking on the phone with a good friend about recent transitions, changes and hurts I've been experiencing. Before I even had a chance to realize it, I found myself going through a breakup and moving to another living space while the seasons changed. And no, the two aren't related! Although I believe that what happened was meant to be, everything happening at once is a lot to process for anyone. In this phone conversation I had with my friend, we talked about feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and how these feelings often accompany a time of transition. We also talked about the importance of the "how" we handle these times. It is through self care, reaching out and surrounding ourselves with support and love no matter what we're going through. These habits make the process of healing from hurt and adjusting to transition much easier. We are more open to learn and grow if we can practice kindness to ourselves and realize that we are so worth it no matter what we are going through.

Two weeks ago, I came back from traveling. Along my travels, I was in North Carolina where I saw Brené Brown speak live. She is a well-known author, writer and TED speaker. Her talk, "The Power of Vulnerability" is one of the top 5 most viewed! She studies and shares her work on shame, courage, connection, worthiness and vulnerability. Her work has inspired me in so many ways and continues to help me in my own growth. Some of the mantras I mention here come from her work.

Also, I chose this photo of trees for a reason. I was also in British Columbia about two weeks ago for my travels and there, I saw many beautiful trees, as old as 1000 years. It struck me that we are like trees. We may sway in our lives when things happen, but our roots continue to grow and hold us to the ground where our true strength lies.

Be Authentic: When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending. Own where you're at, wherever that is.

Reach Out: asking for help is never weakness. It is strength. Connect with close friends (in person) who accept you for who you are. There is always support.  

Be Present: this is about allowing ourselves to feel our feelings (there is great power in dropping the resistance and just letting ourselves feel the hurt, anger, confusion etc. without judgement). All emotions are beautiful. 

Take a Step Back and Slow Down realize that "doing" can wait; feeling good from within is the most important thing. Rest, take a break, a nap, a breath. Letting our body rest is the best way to prevent burnout. 

Practice Self Care Every Day do small things each day to nourish yourself. Feed yourself, take a bath, sleep, exercise, do yoga. 

Take Off The Pressure let yourself be imperfect. Let yourself be silly, weird and not so serious. It's okay to mess up and fall down. We all do.

Be Kind and Gentle Towards Yourself often we can be our own worst critic. Try talking to yourself the way you would talk to someone you love. 

One Step at a Time rather than trying to do it all at once, focus on the one thing you can do right now to feel good. Many of us, including myself, can become addicted to over-busying ourselves. We get busy to numb our emotions. We get busy when we put our self worth into how much we're doing, rather than who we are. There is great power and freedom in doing less, I'm finding.

Focus on What You DO Have Control Over vs. what we don't. What we focus on grows. So when we focus on what we can affect and impact in ourselves, we are truly in charge.

Celebrate Every Single Step rather than steamrolling over the small things to get to the big things. The small things put together are the big things. The small things are the ones that matter at the end of the day.

You are Unconditionally Worthy of Love and Belonging no matter how much you're doing, what you're doing, who you're with or not with, YOU ARE ENOUGH. There is immeasurable love, power and strength within you, even when we may not feel it.

What Can I Learn? each experience is there to make us stronger. Every experience has a lesson in it if we're open to learning. Be open.

Life Loves You God, The Universe, whatever force you believe in, is working in your favor and taking care of you. Trust in your intuitions and the signs life puts in front of you. They are not random. 

This Too Shall Pass No experience, feeling or thought is permanent. No matter it is, it will pass.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Was The Sex Amazing!?

I think that at some point in our lives, we all settle in situations that do not honor our strongest and most authentic selves. Why I preface this post by asking you if you've had amazing sex? Because it is a metaphor for life. Just like we all deserve amazing, wild, mind-blowing, soul-quenching sex, we deserve amazing in all categories in our lives. In our work, friendships, daily routines, plans and travels.

Sometimes we settle for less for a few reasons. Maybe we think amazing doesn't exist. Or even worse, that we don't deserve it. I'm saying this because I know these are the reasons. At least they were mine before I knew what was possible to experience in life and more importantly before I realized that I really am awesome and can do awesome things with my life.

So I get it. It takes experience to believe something to be possible. But it also takes believing it's possible for us to experience it. Both pieces are important and both pieces are sealed by our actual initiative to get out there, act and explore with an open mind.

I wanted to write this post because I know that we are all in this together. We all want amazing, soul-quenching experiences. I want this post to be your permission to take action, your permission to dream and your permission to claim your unconditional worthiness.

This means that you are worthy of everything you want now. No prerequisites required. You are worthy and beautiful and enough as you are, now. You don't need to lose weight, be in a relationship, have a certain amount of money or change anything about who you are to be worthy of amazing.

Was the sex amazing? It's hard to know if we don't give ourselves permission to believe in it. It's hard to know if we don't say no to shitty sex so that we can actually make space for amazing sex. But it stops being hard when we decide that we deserve and want better. I posted a quote on Facebook today that goes like this,

"The time will pass anyway. You can either spend it creating the life you want or spend it living the life you don't want. The choice is yours." 

I know, it sounds like a tall order, but the thing is that this is your life. And it's not going to last forever. So it's worth the risk, work and discipline when you are actually creating the kind of experiences you want to be living. Either way the time will pass so we might as well make sure the sex is amazing.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Love Your Imperfections

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/be/d8/72/bed8726725c0773335b490ea8fdcbb42.jpgIt's been a little while since I've blogged and I've missed it. So I am back with another heart-filled post and it feels good.

Today I want to talk about imperfection and why you need to fall in love with the part of you that fucks up, falls down and gets back up. Yup, I said fall in love. And I know it's possible because I started this journey about three years ago and it's been the most rewarding and fulfilling work I've done in my personal growth.

Our imperfect self is our authentic self. If we want to shine, grow and feel beautiful, this is it.

I know for a fact that if I never let myself fall apart and learned to love every messy bit of myself, I wouldn't be having the kind of perspective-opening and heart-expanding experiences that I do. You know why? Because being imperfect is liberating. It takes away a lot of the barriers that get in the way of living through our passion, love and power.

Embracing our imperfection is the doorway out of isolation and into living wholeheartedly. 

Let me ask you to do something with me now. Take a moment to explore your imperfections- what parts of yourself have you maybe held back out of shame or the belief that in that part you couldn't shine? Because you were afraid that if you showed that part of yourself, it would somehow not be okay or make you "less than."

Well let me take a moment to challenge that belief.
What if you suspended your judgement for a moment and leaned into those very parts with love?
What if you fully embraced those imperfections? What if you realized that those parts make you fucking awesome?

Our imperfections make us human. They make you who you are. And being who you are is insanely attractive.

Over the past few months, I've had a few opportunities to own my story. All of it. My imperfections, messy bits and vulnerability. Those moments have been both powerful and inspiring. Why? Because owning our story gives us the power to write the next chapter. It empowers us.

A few weeks ago I was at a leadership conference. I found myself speaking about mental health and the challenges we face when we go through dark times. To a public audience. Owning my story took courage, but I also got to speak about how we move through these dark times and find our strength and light in them. It was a life-changing moment.

And you know what? I've been realizing that we all want to be our imperfect, human selves, but the pressure we put on ourselves to be this impressive, achieving person gets in the way. Our culture often sets the bar to this way of being. "Do it all and make it look effortless" is the message.Well fuck that. Seriously!

When we hide our imperfections on our chase for excellence so that we can please people who we don't even know, we lose our spirit. It's exhausting and soul-sucking.  

Luckily, there is another way.

We have the choice to be all that we are. Yes, it takes being a bit of a rebel, but in being who we are, we give others the permission to do the same. We give each other permission to be free.

The truth is that perfection had nothing to do with greatness or being our best selves. Striving for greatness is about personal growth, while perfection is about pleasing other people. Totally different ball game folks.

At the end of the day, it comes down to the choice we make to be real. Are we willing to be uncomfortable and take of the mask? I think in a world where our purpose here is to connect, its worth the risk.

Because in our willingness to be imperfect, we open up the necessary space for greater connection and becoming our strongest, most alive and authentic selves.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

A Poem for Free Spirits

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a7/09/18/a70918827ea905b294321df54926f4f9.jpgThis is for those of you who want to be free
Who crave it and relish in it,

This is for those of you who need to break the rules and set boundaries,
Who need to quit the job that isn't working and admit to what needs to change,
Who need travel more than once a year and to go to places where the heart calls upon,

This is for those who seek passion and aren't afraid to ignite their fire and seek other beings whose fire matches theirs.

In the name of sharing love, the Universe expects you to grow, shine and express your spirit in every way possible,

You are here to inspire and be the light that you are,
So be wild and dance in raw vibrations,
You are here to sing a new song and lay in rugged pathways under the burning sun,
You are here to love and be love,

You are,
So be.

This is for you, you free, wild spirit,
Stay free in all your glory and keep opening sunlit pathways with your essence,
It is why you are here and where you breathe.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Purpose: We Are Here to Connect. Period.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a4/6c/d6/a46cd652d03f1f53a6202e8ee833e20b.jpgToday after yoga, I connected with a friend where our conversation resonated on so many notes. It was so satisfying. As I left and got myself a coffee, while writing, I connected so powerfully with the truth that we are here to connect. Period. According to research and the work of Brene Brown, who I deeply respect, we are neurologically, biologically and physically wired for connection.

Whether it is a friend who just "gets it", a mentor who inspires us to live our dream, a spontaneous meeting with a stranger who reminds us that life is short and we need to spend it making the most positive impact that we possibly can. Or with a man or woman who we find that fire with.

Soulful connections. Nourishing encounters. Connection is what brings purpose and meaning to our lives. It's about we, not me. Of course the work starts from within, but it is actually through this process that we realize that its the simple things that matter. That hug. That cup of tea. That friend who was there when we broke down.

Life is all about relationships and I've realized that the greatest work we will ever do is to find the patience, compassion and courage to cultivate them. With friends, with a partner, with ourselves, and in our work with our team and the people whose lives we affect in how we serve the world. These relationships shape our world.

So this is my call for action. Be the love that you are. And if you're hurting, let yourself feel it. Be angry, be sad, love your sadness, but keep your heart open. The world needs your love. Love is why we're here. It's our most fundamental energy, the power within us and where we shine. When we give love, we become open to receive it. There are times when I wanted to close up- one situation, one person and I wanted to close shop. Beat vulnerability to the punch and be too busy for it to catch up with me. But this wouldn't last long- its so much more exhausting to resist. When we stop fighting, we allow love into our lives.

Wherever we come from, whatever our past, love is always here. It's in us and limitless. It's who we are. Love always loves you. Sometimes its less about "finding" love and more about removing all the blocks we have set up against it. 

So this is me standing for love. Even if it hurts. Even though its hard even admitting all of this now. Because truth sometimes hurts. But it's real and we are here to be real, express and experience raw, soulful connection with everyone around us.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Follow Your Heart and it Will Lead You to Ecstasy

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a5/53/bc/a553bce95806ee4660f5c2ef0cca540d.jpgStop for a moment. Or two. Just stop everything and stretch beyond your daily routine. You are more than your job. More than your circumstances. You are pure energy. You are pure ecstatic energy and love. Yes, you are love. And that love comes from within.

Do you feel the beat? Do you hear the voice? Are you listening?

Sometimes its only in moments of stillness that we find the quiet whisper of our heart.

It speaks to us in vibrations of love. It tells us what our dreams are, makes us realize that we need to get up and go make them happen, and it stares us straight in our soul to tell us what we need to let go of. Because that shit is too heavy to keep around.

It tells us what we need to face. Where we need to heal. And trust me, sometimes being in stillness forces us to see the messy bits, the painful bits and the bits that hurt like hell. But when we can practice the courage to be with those bits, love them and move through them, we are truly free. Its when we practice the courage to surrender to our truth and let go that we realize is ain't so bad. When we are able to be okay with what comes up from inside, we are able to truly heal, move past and let go.
All the answers we are looking for lie within. It's really just a matter of taking the time to slow down and open up. I literally create space in my schedule where nothing is planned. Time to embrace uncertainty and allow truth to come up. If we are constantly in "making things happen" mode, our truth can't catch up with us. It's in moments of freedom, space and uncertainty that we receive.

Finding balance in our life demands that we create space for both certainty, planning and goals as well as uncertainty. The two actually compliment each other. We need to slow down to find our truth, re calibrate, reconnect, disconnect from the voices around us to hear our call for adventure. And then we need the action and planning to make the adventure happen. The best adventures are the callings from our heart. So let's begin this one.

Are you ready?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Do This During Tough Times

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c1/86/d0/c186d0ca7252fca91bce7fff27549c8d.jpgDuring every tough time, we need to first of all remind ourselves that we all experience pain, joy, loss, ups and downs. This is the cycle of the life. We are not alone. In fact, it is through our vulnerabilities that we unite.

And really, the most powerful thing we can do when shit happens or when we feel like a mess, it to surrender to the mess. Yes, I said it. Surrender to the mess, love it, embrace it, let go, trust and reach out to the people who are worthy of holding space for your story. This is literally a process I've experienced enough to know that it not only works, but its how we grow and find the light in whatever situation we are going through. When we let go, we literally allow space to heal and for the answers to come.

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we don't see the purpose or lesson behind an experience until later. These words by Steve Jobs emphasize the point I'm trying to make here. It's absolutely brilliant.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference."

So we really need to trust. Trust that everything happens for a reason. Trust that we will always have the tools we need to handle any given situation. That if we slow down and look within, we will find all the answers. And we need to let go and trust that in allowing ourselves to embrace whatever we are going through, no matter how shitty or messy or painful, that this too is a season. That it will pass. But for now, we can be present with it. We can open up with compassion. And find that when we do this, we are free.

Meditation has really taught me this. In a recent group meditation class I participated in, I was grateful for the space to realize what we sometimes forget when we live in a fast-paced city like Toronto.While we have thoughts and we are able to choose the thoughts that feel the best, we are not our thoughts.

We are more than our thoughts.

During meditation, we focus on the breath and tune into our body. We become present. We let go of judgement and just observe our thoughts without becoming too involved in their meaning. Just observing with compassion. At some point during practice, we find ourselves in a space that is more than the stories of our mind. Call it spirit, space or transcendence, what I've found to be the most powerful experience is to see how fulfilling and enough the present moment is. Creating space from our busy lives to slow down and be in the present moment, we are able to be more present throughout the day, live more simply and be more clear about whats most important to us.

And most importantly, we find more freedom.

Friday, 27 March 2015

"Dear Heart, I Will Open You Up Again"

Every moment, we can open up our heart. I find there are so many things these days that keep people all closed up. Past hurt that hasn't had space to heal. Or simply the fear of facing the vulnerability of opening up our heart, because its a wild thing, you know. We don't always know what to expect until we actually let go.

Many of us learn to run away from pain- out of fear or simply habit. But mostly fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of "What will they, the critics, think?" But our judgement of labeling our pain as "bad" or unattractive or something that makes us less worthy of love and belonging, is exactly what gets in the way of experiencing joy, love and belonging.

So what we need to do is let go of the judgement and surrender to who we are. To what is. That is the most beautiful thing. We need to flip the coin and take every opportunity to open up to our present experience, especially in a world that is obsessed with more. As if we need more of something else to be happy.

There is nothing more worthy and available to bring us happiness and fulfillment than this present moment.

The problem with a constant chase to have more is that we lose sight of what is available to us right now. We miss the magic of what we already have. We miss out on the opportunity to be grateful for it. I'm coming to terms, time and time again, that no matter how much we plan and predict, we can create goals for the sake of focus and direction, but we don't how it will all play out. The future is so unknown.

There is only now. This moment. How we feel now. And with the embracing of it, we unfold into the future from our present state.

When we find the happiness now, we don't have any need to control the future because we have not put our happiness in it. Our happiness is now. And from this place, the future has no choice but to also unfold in happiness.

As many of you know, I've been a huge fan of Brené Brown. Both her books, "The Gifts of Imperfection" and "Daring Greatly" I've read multiple times. And recently took a course this past January covering all of her research and what has emerged as essential for us to feel connection and meaning in our lives. It's absolutely changed my life. And also keeps me coming back to what I realize is important. 

We need to see ourselves as unconditionally worthy and enough, no matter what happens or what our circumstances are. Job or no job, more money or less money, boyfriend or no boyfriend. We need to see that yes, we are all "Imperfect and wired for struggle, but worthy of love and belonging" at every point throughout the journey.

Worthy of love and belonging now, no matter what. We need to be okay with where we are now so that we can see that its an opportunity and its beautiful and its enough. It's an opportunity to grow and learn about love. 

It's saying, "This is the way I feel and it's okay. This is what I'm doing, this is what I have and its enough. I am enough, just the way I am."

We came to this earth to love and be happy and drink up life experience and love ourselves no matter what. This realization that our worthiness has no prerequisites has completely impacted the way I live my life. Because it allows us to be more present with who we are and the love we can feel in this moment if we choose to open our hearts up. No matter what we've been through, we can always learn to open up again. In fact, we might just have to. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A Poem For Healing Hearts

When the darkness has set,
and you're all alone,
when the pain fires up,
right to your bone

When the corners are tight,
and the walls crumble down,
be kind to yourself,
it's not a fight

Love your pain, 
because it will go,
love your pain,
because you're more than you know

   Move with it like its a luscious wave,
     Yes, salt in your eyes and balancing tall,
                  But you'll find your stand,
                         Even if you fall

                                                                         Just get back up with compassionate arms,
                                                                                Yes, there will be another.

                                                                          More sparkling eyes looking into souls,
                                                                         More deep kisses against warm skin,
                                                                         It's the law of nature,
                                                                            And your journey to find the love within.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Stop Playing Safe.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/81/40/2c/81402c54bb36ce37ded59e8b4fc6687c.jpgSafety. We love it. Our schedules and routines help us stay comfortable. And the people who don't want to grow will remind us that we "should" just do the right thing and follow the path of A B C.

But honestly, fuck that.

There are different ways to find our happiness and purpose and live our passion. One comfy formula doesn't work for many of us. Many of us dream of traveling off the beaten path, yet we rationalize and delay the very impulses that remind us of our aliveness. 

There are so many ways to build a successful career, meet awesome people, feel good and become educated. If we are going to be ourselves and live our unique lives, then we need to be willing to find the journey that speaks to our intuition. 

And following this calling with relentless passion and persistence. Yes, I mean doing the thing that scares you. It's the only way we grow.

When we open up to seeing that there are different ways to do things and become successful, and that the very definition of success is up to us, we give ourselves permission to dream.

How can we possibly dream if the way we see our path is limited and we don't see the many possibilities?

Each of us has a different journey and if we look at many leaders, entrepreneurs and people who are successful, we can observe so many different formulas. Going to university, college, getting a certification, starting a business, traveling, starting a blog/YouTube channel, getting certified, reading, therapy, mentoring, life coaching- these are all tools that leverage our experience and skills base so that we can work and live in what is aligned with our values.

There is not one item on this list, or combination that is "right." Instead of comparing our path to others or making choices according to what we think is the easy path, lets define success and our path to it on our own terms. This applies to every area of our lives.

Do something dangerous. Do something outside the box. Think outside the box. It doesn't mean we necessarily need to go out and backpack around the world (although this is one pretty awesome way) or run a marathon or make a million. Our risks may mean thinking differently, we can do little things, take things one step at a time, whatever your adventure calls you to do.

What matters at the end of the day is that we are growing, opening up and coming alive to the possibilities around us and love within us. So whatever your blueprint, definition or journey is, however you go about igniting your spirit, own that.